Risk of Asthma Treatment Failure Rises With Age

Certain asthma treatments, especially inhaled corticosteroids, are more likely to fail in older adults with the disease thank in younger patients, according to a new study.

In a retrospective analysis of data from 12,000 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma from 10 trials, researchers found that treatment failed in 17.3% of patients 30 years and older, compared to only 10.3% of those under 30. Lower lung function and longer duration of asthma were also associated with higher rates of treatment failure.

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In patients taking inhaled corticosteroids, risk of treatment failure was shown to increase consistently for every year above 30, and those using this form of treatment were more than twice as likely to experience treatment failure than those under 30.

Rates of treatment failure did not differ between men and women.

“Our novel finding of decreased responsiveness to asthma therapy with increasing age may involve not only biological mechanisms such as differences in the type of airway inflammation in older patients, but may also involve socioeconomic, geographic, or treatment adherence differences between older and younger patients,” the researchers concluded.

“Further research is needed to elucidate the causes underlying our observations and to examine whether older patients might benefit from a unique treatment approach.”

—Michael Potts


American Thoracic Society. Older asthma patients at increased risk for treatment failure [press release]. Accessed June 15, 2015.